Star Island Orlando
Club Wyndham Star Island is located in Kissimmee Florida, close to Disney, Universal, and all that Orlando has to offer. When I go to Florida I often drive down but this was a weekend where the workweek had been crazy, so instead of taking the time for the drive, I flew into town instead.
Video by Revisionee
Day One Arrival
I flew into Orlando National Airport (MCO) form Norfolk (ORF). My flight was a strait shot from one airport to the next. No layover or anything so it was a breeze. It was also cheap. I flew on Frontier Airlines and the total cost round trip was less than $200 I saved more than that booking through TZort for the resort, do it felt free.
I had rented a car because I wanted to drive around Orlando to be able to see more in the short 3 days, I would get to stay this time. For $75 a day I had a nice new full-size car. Given the miles on my own car the time and cost of gas down. I still feel like I am ahead of the game on this trip.
It was about a 30-minute drive from the airport in light traffic. One thing I noticed from the signs is how close this resort is to Disney. If going to see the mouse is on your list this is a great resort to choose.
Here are some fast tips on this resort from their website, but I verified these.
- This is a non-smoking resort
- Daily round-trip shuttle from the lobby to Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando for a fee; please reserve 24 hours in advance
- Star Island is a cash-free resort; a credit card authorization is required at check in
- Generous selection of restaurants within 0.5 miles; grocery store 0.25 miles; discount mall 1 mile
I think if I had realized the shuttle service went not only to Disney, but also Universal and Sea World. I may have just gotten an Uber from the airport and spent the rental cash on something else.
The resort itself offers 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom units from Deluxe to Suites. They also do a great job of having accessible rooms available.
For this trip, it was just me so I booked a 1-bedroom suite just to have a little breathing room, but not taking one of the rooms from a family that needed one.
The room was listed as 475sq feet, and the layout made it feel even larger than that. The kitchen was a decent size and there was even a stacked washer dryer in the unit. The master bedroom was roomy and has access to the same balcony as the living room.
One of the things to look at is the Satellite view on the website or on Google Maps. The pools and overall layout are very nice and that is shown well via Google.
Once I checked in and settled it was time to find somewhere close by to eat. I wanted to get a good dinner and then chill out tonight because I intended to be going into Universal tomorrow as soon as the gates opened.
I had watched all the Harry Potter movies with my nieces and nephews over the years and I wanted to have a butterbeer, and see the new section of the park that added from those movies and books.
I decided on BBQ so I headed over to Big John’s BBQ when I arrived I ordered the Supper Sampler which had one of just about every meat on the menu for less than $20. It was like having a buffet brought to the table. That and a 32OZ tea and I was good to go. Whew, that was a ton of food. Now I can eat but even for me, it was a lot. When the waitress asked if I wanted dessert I laughed and answered not this time. I was too full.
Now I am a BBQ snob of sorts. I like most BBQ but I love Carolina Style as in North Carolina style. But this spot was good and the sausage and chicken I felt were their best items.
Next, it was time to head back to the resort grab a drink from the bar, and kick up my feat some. The flight today was short and easy, but for some reason flights sometimes throw off my sleep even a short one. So I wanted to wind down and go to bed early.
Day Two at Club Wyndham Star Island
I woke early as planned and showed fast and made my way to the car then drove to Universal. I chose to drive since the rental was unlimited miles and I wanted to see if driving myself might get me at the front of the opening line to get in. They were offering all kinds of multi-day pass deals for travelers. Including a 4-person 4-day deal that looked great. But surprise, I travel a good deal and love the area so I already had an annual pass. The annual pass deal has always been a great one for Floridians and it is something to look into to see if you might qualify.
I can remember when the pass was $69 for the first few years of Universal. Ah memory lane. That road I go down now all the time.
One thing to consider when going to Orlando is the express pass and virtual line options. These save you time and hassle and are worth it. The virtual line just involves using their app on your phone and reserving your spot in line digitally for select rides. That is a no-brainer, and something everyone should do. Unlike Disney, I have not found a spot in Universal that does not have good cell service with most cell services.
At Disney on a few occasions, I have been with friends and family that have had the largest network provider and no service in parts of Disney. Maybe it is because of the size of the park, and all the water features. No idea, I just know the cell phone app option is great to use for the virtual line service.
Now for those of you who book through TZort to save money on principle but have money to burn on things you value there is always the express passes or even the VIP pass options. These passes and experiences are crazy. Especially the VIP, I have done the VIP 1 time and Universal and 3 times at Disney. They are worth the money if you have it to spend. But not one soul on the plant should pay for them with a credit card they can not pay off immediately. They are fun but keep in mind these are just upsells for the park.
Now the VIP pricing is less at Universal. It starts at $189 per person. The neatest things are the behind-the-scenes tours. But it is nice to get the best seats to shows, immediate ride access without waiting, and much more.
These are the kinds of things you see happening around you when you do not realize it at both Universal and Disney. At Disney, you will often see a golf cart appear out of nowhere with a guide and guests onboard. They then walk right up to the ride get in the best seats and go on. It is kind of neat to see, and cooler to do.
I did this with a family friend one time and the reason we did it was so that the husband who was just diagnosed with an illness could have a perfect day. It felt amazing to be able to do that for our friends.
For Universal and fans of Harry Potter, there is something in each park to do. If you want to get sorted for your own wand that is near the castle in Islands of Adventure. There are also rides with Harry Potter themes in each park. These are so popular that I think they put some in each park to keep Islands of Adventure people traffic manageable.
Man, the butterbeer was like a Slurpee on steroids. I had two of those suckers before lunch. Which was I am sure enough sugar to keep me going for the whole day. But hey, they were good.
The Forbidden Journey was the first Harry Potter ride and it was nice. If you are a big person you can check to see if you will fit on the ride outside of the line, near the start. I just barely fit at my current weight. It is worth checking so no one gets embarrassed going up to ride and being turned away. It is literally a safety thing if the system can come down over the top of you and lock you are OK, if not you need to stay off the ride. I know a few people who have said that they could not make the cut because they were too large. Kind of the adult version of being too small when you are young to ride.
Near the castle is the Three Broomsticks restaurant. The food is good and it is cool to eat in the Harry Potter world. You can also go in the other park to the Leaky Cauldron which is near Diagon Alley if you want more traditional English food.
My meal was good and the whole area was neat to visit.
So far, I had looked around a ton, and road 3 rides. I wanted to go check out the other park now and see what Diagon Alley was all about. Diagon Alley again was a neat experience and the ride Escape from Gringotts was fun as well. Despite now 3 butter beers, the lunch, and more. I was started to get tired. This meant slowing my roll (taking it easy for anyone over 30) and checking out the shops in the alley. The Weasley shop is a must stop for any fans of the books or movies. For parents just know that this and a few other shops will likely put you behind a month or two on college tuition.
I had seen at least 3 attractive (older) cast members that I would have liked to use a love potion on, but I resisted the purchase. Instead, I grabbed some candy and items and had them sent to the exit so I could pick them up at the end of the day. This is a free service and it just makes sense to use it.
Day Three fast forward to Disney
People likely think I am a little crazy doing each of these parks in a single short trip. Either Disney or Universal are so large that you could spend a week or more and not do nearly everything.
It had been a while since I had been to Orlando so I wanted to make the most of this trip and visit some of my favorite things at Disney as well.
Choosing which park to go to in Disney is hard for me. I have been blessed to have been often enough to have some favorite areas and things to do. I grew up with Star Wars so you know where I wanted to go to first. Yep, the Star Wars section at Disney. This meant Hollywood Studios. For anyone who has watched the movies this is insane.
But if you are the least part nerd like me, you will love it. It is incredible!
Going for a ride in the Millennium Falcon was just what the Science Fiction doctor ordered. I got off that ride and was OK back in line again got to do that right away again.
The park opened at 9AM and I was at the gate so after a few rides and picking my jaw off the ground. I decided it was time to eat something. Now for me anyone one thing I could pass on after trying it was the blue-green milk that they sell imitating something Luke drank. It was not bad; it just did not hold a candle to Butter Beer and was the same price.
After a simple fast food-like lunch, I headed to the Magic Kingdom. I wanted to go down memory lane some. I road it’s a small world and went on Pirates of the Caribbean. Then I headed for my first childhood favorite The Enchanted Tiki Room. I went not because it is amazing but because of my memories. At 50 now I can remember going here with almost every important person in my life who is no longer with me. My Grandparents on my Mothers side, my Father, and more close family.
When I was young, I came to Disney once with my Father when I was maybe 4 or 5, then later at 8 with my Grandparents and Sister. Then later with my Mother, Step-Father, and Step-Sister, and Her husband. In the years since I have been back with more family still with me, and friends over the years.
The thing I love about this little Tiki Room is that it has not changed much over my lifetime. I hope they never change it.
Now if you too want to create your own family memories that can last generations travel with TZort and consider this resort and Disney or Universal on your trip.